Google’s Project Ara is heralded in sweaty-palmed blog posts as the future of mobile computing — a modular smartphone that adapts to suit your every need. But at the moment, the future of smartphones is struggling to boot up consistently. So in the meantime, this Kickstarter wants to take Ara’s promise of a modular smartphone, put it in case form, and bring it to the masses.
If you’re not familiar with Project Ara, the idea is this: the base of the phone is an ‘endoskeleton’ — basically a smartphone-sized motherboard — with rectangular slots for you to add a processor, touchscreen, thumbprint scanner, whatever.
Nexpaq shamelessly steals that design, and applies it to a phone case. There’s a central spine down the middle, with space for six accessory modules. Since the case is going to be snapped onto an already functioning smartphone, there’s no processor or RAM modules here: instead, you’ve got the option of adding extra speakers, a flashlight, SD card reader, or a bunch of sensors, like a breathalyser or thermometer.
Once of the case’s biggest selling points could be battery life. It comes with a built-in 1000mAh battery, and modules are available with another ‘30%’ battery life — meaning if you had a pocketful of charged battery modules, you could hot-swap on the move, and keep your phone running for days on end.
At the moment, the case options are limited to iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, or the Galaxy S5, although there’s a promise of more cases in the lineup.
Case selection isn’t the biggest question-mark over this process, though. There’s an element of doubt with every Kickstarter; something this ambitious, doubly so. Thickness has to be a concern: even existing battery packs struggle with weight and size, and those aren’t trying to accommodate a bunch of extra modules sitting in the back.
If you’re not deterred by the thought of throwing money at a beta experiment, the Nexpaq costs $89 (£58) for the basic one-case, four-module package, with delivery estimated for January 2016. I wouldn’t be sitting too expectantly next to the postbox on January 1st, though. [Kickstarter]